August 31, 2011

Summer Vegetable Tian

summer vegetable tian
I thought I would sneak in this recipe while I still can, considering it has the word summer in the title and summer is almost over! Even though the last day of summer is technically September 22, I feel like it unofficially ends after Labor Day, which is coming up ridiculously fast!

A tian is basically a dish of layered vegetables that’s baked like a gratin, with a topping of breadcrumbs and cheese. This tian is a great way to use up all your summer vegetables, but is also highly adaptable to whatever vegetables you happen to have on hand. I used zucchini, eggplant, tomato, and potatoes, then topped it with Italian breadcrumbs and parmesan. The topping is also pretty versatile – I’ve seen versions without any cheese on top and some that have a blend of multiple types of cheese all melted together (I bet that version would be amazing!)

Here's a picture to give you an idea of the size of the vegetables I used - I tried to pick ones that were roughly equal in diameter so they would stack together nicely.

summer vegetable tian
And here's a picture after they were all sliced up. I didn’t end up fitting all the zucchini into the dish, though I probably could have if I had tried hard enough.

summer vegetable tian
This was a really comforting dish that was full of flavour from the different types of roasted vegetables. It was also really easy to make – the hardest part was probably slicing all those vegetables, but if you’re lucky enough to own a mandoline then it would probably be a breeze! This would be a great warm side dish for the coming month when summer vegetables are still around but the weather is getting a little cooler.

I know the picture at the top of this post makes the dish look really boring and strange, but it was hard to make it look good once it got all covered up with the breadcrumbs. You’ll just have to trust me that this tastes much better than it looks! Here’s a pic of the veggies before they went in the oven – they were much prettier at this stage!

summer vegetable tian
Summer Vegetable Tian

Adapted from Budget Bytes and Williams Sonoma

Serves about 6 as a side dish


3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium zucchini
2 white potatoes (or 1 russet potato)
2 medium tomatoes
1 medium eggplant
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon each)
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs


Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic and sauté until onion is soft and translucent, 5-10 minutes. Spread mixture over the bottom of the 8x8 dish.

Thinly slice the zucchini, potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant (no need to peel any of them). Toss all the sliced vegetables in a large bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil and the seasonings (thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper) until all vegetables are coated.

Layer the vegetables vertically in the dish in overlapping rows, in an alternating pattern. Cover the dish with foil and bake at 400°F for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix the parmesan and breadcrumbs together. Once vegetables have cooked for 30 minutes, remove foil and top with the breadcrumb mixture. Return to oven and bake for another 15 minutes uncovered, until breadcrumb mixture is golden brown.

Let stand 5-10 minute before serving – vegetables will be hot!

summer vegetable tian

August 29, 2011

Low-Fat Peach Blueberry Muffins

peach blueberry muffins
After recently going through two baskets of peaches and findings ways to incorporate them into breakfast, dinner, and dessert, I vowed never to peel another peach again until next summer. Well, silly me to believe I would be able to resist the baskets overflowing with juicy ripe peaches everywhere I went. I of course broke down and bought another basket, this time using them for an appetizer, snack, and drink. I hope you’re not already peached out, because this batch of recipes was just as amazing as the first!

First up I thought I’d share the snack recipe, for low-fat peach blueberry muffins. I find myself making muffins fairly often because they’re a great way to use up leftover fruit and berries, they take so little time to make and bake, they’re really easy to make low fat, and they freeze well, so I can grab one from the freezer in the morning and it will be thawed out in time for a morning or afternoon snack at school.

These are adapted from a recipe for blueberry strawberry muffins I saw on Eat Yourself Skinny by guest blogger Not Rachael Ray. The recipe only had one tablespoon of oil for 12 muffins, and incorporated other healthy ingredient substitutions like applesauce, skim milk, whole wheat flour, and ground flax seeds. If you’ve never heard of flax seeds before, don’t be scared! They're a good source of fiber and healthy fats, and they carry a lot of other nutritional benefits that make them a great addition to baked goods and smoothies (such as the extremely popular Green Monster smoothie). You should be able to find it in the bulk section of most food stores (it’s also really cheap when you buy it that way!)

I replaced the strawberries with peaches and the lemon zest with vanilla and cinnamon. The smell while these were baking was irresistible and the muffins tasted amazing warm out of the oven. They rose up really nicely, and I loved the bursts of fruit and the hint of cinnamon. I especially loved the fact that these were practically guilt-free! I did find that they were slightly drier the next day, but a quick zap in the microwave fixed that, and I have a feeling the reason for it was that I both overmixed and overbaked them - so be careful not to make those mistakes!

Hope everyone else is still enjoying peach season and the last bit of August!

peach blueberry muffins

Low-Fat Peach Blueberry Muffins

Adapted from Not Rachael Ray as seen on Eat Yourself Skinny

Makes 12 muffins


3/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup fresh blueberries
3/4 cup chopped peeled ripe peaches


Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or spray with nonstick spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (milk, applesauce, egg, oil, and vanilla).

In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients (flours, flax seed, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon).

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not overmix – batter should be lumpy. Gently fold in the blueberries and peaches.

Divide batter among the 12 muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown then let cool on a wire rack before eating.

peach blueberry muffins

August 27, 2011

Coconut Lime Berry Cake with Lime Whipped Cream

coconut lime berry cake
The other week we had a family gathering for my Grandma’s birthday and I volunteered to be in charge of dessert. Usually, choosing a dessert for a celebration like this takes me forever because I have to go through my hundreds of bookmarked recipes to decide what would be most appropriate for the occasion, what I would have time to make, what would be the least expensive, and what would appeal to the most people. But this time I had to make my decision pretty quickly as it was already noon and the celebration was that night. Fortunately, I had been eyeing this coconut lime berry cake on Two Peas and Their Pod for a while, just waiting for the chance to make it, so it immediately sprang to mind and I got started right away!

It turned out I made the perfect choice! The cake was so moist and flavorful, but also tasted so light, which was exactly what everyone wanted after eating a big meal. The three flavours (coconut, lime, berries) worked so well together and matched the season perfectly. I thought the fresh berries stood out the most while I was eating it, but others said they mainly tasted the coconut and lime, and Ryan said he tasted all three in different stages. I decided to whip up a lime whipped cream I’d seen on How Sweet It Is, and it was the perfect addition to the cake to make it worthy of a celebration, but I also think the cake would have been delicious on its own.

I will definitely be keeping this recipe in the back of my mind for the next time I need an easy and crowd-pleasing summer dessert!

coconut lime berry cake

Coconut Lime Berry Cake with Lime Whipped Cream

Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod, originally from Everyday Food, May 2011

Makes one 9 x 13 cake, about 12 servings


For the cake:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ¾ cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup buttermilk (or mix ¾ cup milk + ¾ tablespoon lime juice if you don't have buttermilk)
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 cups mixed berries, such as raspberries and blueberries
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice

For the whipped cream:

1 cup cold whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 tablespoon lime zest


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9-by-13-inch baking dish (I just lined mine with parchment paper).

In a large bowl, whisk together 1 3/4 cups flour with the baking powder, salt, and coconut.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 cup sugar on high, scraping down bowl as needed, until light and fluffy, for about 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined. Add vanilla and mix until combined. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of the buttermilk, and beat until combined. Stir in lime zest and juice. Pour batter into dish and smooth the top with a small rubber spatula.

In a medium bowl, toss berries with 1 tablespoon flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, and the fresh orange juice. Scatter berry mixture over the batter.

Bake until cake is golden at edges and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack for about 20 minutes before slicing.

While cake is baking, make the lime whipped cream. Chill the bowl of an electric mixer before using. Once bowl is chilled, add cream, vanilla, and sugar. Beat on high until cream stiffens, about 5-6 minutes. Gently fold in lime zest. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serve cake warm or at room temperature, with lime whipped cream dolloped on top of each slice.

coconut lime berry cake

August 25, 2011

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

mediterranean chickpea salad
A couple days ago I promised to share a recipe for the second salad I’ve been enjoying all summer (the first being the tomato, corn, and edamame salad that I love for its simplicity and bright flavours). This recipe for a Mediterranean Chickpea Salad has a few more ingredients than the other one, but it’s still so easy and quick to throw together, which makes it perfect for those summer evenings when you’re craving fresh summer flavours and don’t feel like slaving over a hot stove all night.

The ingredients in this salad all blend so well together to create a Mediterranean taste that I absolutely love. I think part of the reason I love this so much is because I put a ton of feta in it, and cheese always makes anything better, but I use the reduced fat kind to convince myself that this is still a super healthy salad. Feel free to reduce the feta amount slightly if you don’t want it to be too overwhelming, but I love having the taste of feta in every bite. I’d also guess that red onion would go really well with these ingredients but I despise red onion so I can’t test that theory out for you. Go ahead and add it in though if you’re an onion fan!

I serve this with some bruschetta and am satisfied eating it as a complete meal, but I think it would also be a great side dish or potluck dish! It’s even better the next day as the Mediterranean flavours all meld together. I can’t decide if I like this or the corn salad better - they’re both great and will definitely be summer staples for me for a while!

mediterranean chickpea salad
Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

Adapted from Cooking With My Kid

Serves 2 as a main dish, or 4 as a side dish


1 can (20 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup cucumber, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup red pepper, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup crumbled feta
2 1/2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


Mix the first six ingredients together in a large bowl. Adjust amounts of each if necessary.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil, then add to salad and mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with parsley leaves.

August 23, 2011

Easy Tomato, Corn & Edamame Salad

corn tomato edamameYesterday, it was cool enough that I had to wear jeans for the first time in months. I even saw people wearing jackets outside, and though I was in a t-shirt, I secretly wished I had a jacket on too. This was very distressing to me - Fall is just around the corner and I am not ready for it yet! Okay, maybe a little tiny part of me is excited for fall leaves, cozy sweaters, and baking with apples and pumpkins, but the rest of me is not ready to give up on sunshine, summer dresses, and summer vegetables!

That's why I've been making this tomato, corn and edamame salad a lot lately, because it's like summer in a bowl and I need to savour every bite of summer while I still can! I rarely make the same recipe twice in a month because I have so many recipes I'm always dying to try, but I can't even count the number of times I've eaten this in the last month, which says a lot about how delicious it is!

It also says a bit about how lazy I am, because this is probably one of the easiest salads to throw together. All you have to do is cook the corn (make sure it's fresh!), and toss it with some sliced cherry or grape tomatoes and cooked edamame. The frozen edamame that I buy comes in little bags that you just have to throw into the microwave for a couple minutes to steam, and then they're done! Then I whip together a super simple vinaigrette of lime juice and olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. That's it!

I love the way the fresh, sweet flavours of the corn and tomato really shine through in this salad. The simple dressing brings forth the flavours rather than hiding them, and the addition of edamame makes this a complete (though light) meal for me. Edamame (soybeans) is as complete a protein as meat, and contains a lot of amino acids, folate, potassium, and other nutrients. The only problem with edamame is that it can be hard to find in a grocery store (at least according to my experience). Surprisingly, the only big store I've been able to find it in (in my area) is Walmart, but it should also be available in most health food stores. If you can't find it, or if you simply don't like it, I've also made this salad with frozen lima beans instead and it tastes great that way too. Though I usually eat this as a light meal in itself, many people would probably prefer it as a side dish, which is where I've classified it in the recipe index.

Later this week I'll share a recipe for my other favourite summer salad, so stay tuned!

corn tomato edamame
Easy Tomato, Corn and Edamame Salad

Serves about 2-3 as a main course, or 4-6 as a side dish


2 cobs of corn
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
8 oz frozen shelled edamame
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (about half a lime) -- or replace with white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper


Husk the corn then cook them in a large pot of boiling water about 5-6 minutes. Let cool, then slice off the corn kernels with a large knife, holding the cob upright over a bowl.

Cook the edamame according to package directions and let cool.

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk together the lime juice and olive oil and toss with salad. Add salt and pepper to taste.

corn tomato edamame

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